Image Courtesy of Landmark Conference Twitter
By Garrett Farrell
Last Friday, July 31, the Landmark Conference announced that it would be suspending all fall sports until January at the earliest. The decision comes after weeks of increasing COVID-19 cases, forcing many colleges and universities, including Catholic University, to continue online classes through the fall semester.
The conference regulates interscholastic athletics through eight NCAA division three schools: Catholic University, Drew University, Elizabethtown College, Goucher College, Juniata College, Moravian College, Susquehanna University, and the University of Scranton.
The decision was made unanimously by the conference’s executive board, according to a press release issued on the Landmark Conference’s website.
“The conference supports institutional autonomy for its member institutions and teams to engage in athletically related activities in accordance with their local and state health guidelines and NCAA Division III rules,” the conference said in its statement. “The conference and its member institutions are exploring ways to provide competitive opportunities for fall student-athletes to participate in their sport during the spring semester barring local and state recommendations related to the pandemic.”
In addition to the Landmark Conference, the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) has cancelled its fall season. Catholic University is an associate member of the NEWMAC, participating only in football through the conference. No information could be found on the Mid-Atlantic Rowing Conference’s (MARC) plan for the fall of 2020.
The Landmark Conference has not issued any other statement on how the logistics of running two concurrent seasons of sports will work, especially considering that many smaller schools use their athletic fields for multiple sports throughout the year.
Moravian College notably uses the same area for baseball, soccer, football, field hockey, and track. This poses a unique logistical challenge to the conference organizers, since all member colleges are smaller and do not have the same facilities as D-I universities such as Penn State and University of Maryland.
Another challenge to this plan comes from the fact that there may be athletes who play multiple sports throughout the year, or students who participate in fall sports that have commitments in the spring that cannot be rescheduled (i.e. student teaching, clinical rotations, or necessary internships).
The Landmark Conference has not yet announced any changes to its schedules for winter and spring sports. According to their statement, the conference will issue an update to these schedules, as well as a general status report on fall sports, on or before October 15.
While answers to these questions are currently scarce, and new questions arise daily, the decisions made by the conference may not necessarily be executed the way they are intended. As seen from CUA’s Roadmap 2020, shifting circumstances and changing conditions have forced colleges and universities to alter plans that they were dedicated to pursuing. While the Landmark Conference is hopeful that it will resume operations in early 2021, it is entirely possible that ever-changing circumstances will cause league officials to further postpone collegiate sports.